Every family needs a great bedtime routine, so I’ve compiled a list of my best tips and products to help you get your littles to bed faster, smoother, and happier than ever before.
A Great Bedtime Routine Starts With a Few Intentional Decisions
When I was pregnant with my youngest, my husband and I made the decision that our two girls would share a room.
While that decision (for the most part) has been wonderful, it’s definitely come with some challenges! The biggest has been bedtime.
I mean, getting a toddler to bed is enough of a circus, but let’s just throw a baby into the mix and enjoy all the tears.
My husband likes to call it our “chorus of pixies.”
Anyway, as the little one got old enough to move into her crib, we had to figure out how we were going to tackle bedtime with both girls in the same room with different bedtimes.
We already had a bedtime routine established for my toddler, so it was really just a matter of adjusting her routine a bit and making a few intentional decisions about timing and where the majority of her routine would take place.
For example, before the girls started sharing a room, story time took place in her room and in her bed, but we’ve had to move story time out to the living room.
Small decisions have made big impacts on our bedtime routines, but if you aren’t intentional about your child’s bedtime routine, they will run you ragged.
And you need your evenings, mama, to take care of yourself.
So look through this list, make some decisions, commit to them, and win your evening back!
Our Evenings Look Something Like This
When we were just doing bedtime routine for one, her routine looked like this:
Stories with Mom and Dad
Put in the crib awake
Fall asleep on her own
Now that we have two, it looks a little more like this:
Littlest is in fresh diaper, jammies, and sleep sack, and then nursed and put to bed around 6
(By the way, the Love to Dream sleep sack is my absolute favorite swaddle that I used for both my girls!)
Dinner at 6:15/6:30 with dad and toddler
Bath time for toddler with mom at 7:30 – We almost always allow plenty of time to play and splash
Jammies, potty time, pull up
Story time with dad, medicine, and brush teeth 7:45-8:15 (I usually sit down to work a little at this time)
Hugs, kisses and bonding time with Mama and Daddy for a few minutes
8:15 Dad tells a story to toddler in bed
Overall, our routine allows our littlest to get a couple hours of sleep in before our toddler gets in her big girl bed.
Why You Need to Have a Bedtime Routine for the Kids
There are so many benefits to having a deliberate and intentional night time routine for your kids, but here are my top 4:
1) Kids need and crave structure
Structure gives kids a sense of security. When they know what to expect, they develop a confidence in themselves.
Routine allows kids to grow and expand within the confines of the expected.
And just like you and I look forward to the moment our heads hit the pillow, kids need to know when that moment is going to happen for them, too (although they may not look forward to it quite like we do!).
2) Establish healthy sleep habits for them
Just as we need to be taught how to speak, walk, and socialize, we also need to be taught healthy sleep habits.
Think about yourself for just a moment. Do you stay up too late with your nose buried in your phone? Do you toss and turn half the night because your mind is too restless? Have you taken the time to set up a night time routine for yourself?
Be honest – do you have healthy sleep habits? And do you really want to battle kids that don’t have healthy sleep habits?
Take on the challenge to create healthier sleep habits for your entire family. You’ll probably all be a little happier for it.
3) Allows you and your spouse to have some quiet time before bed
A few months after my oldest daughter was born, my husband and I struggled to find any quiet time together sans baby. It wasn’t until a few months after that, that we finally learned how to establish some healthy sleep habits for her and found some quiet time for us to reconnect.
You and your spouse need time to together without the kids. This is the season of life that you have to truly put in the effort to keep your marriage strong.
The work you put in now can help your marriage thrive later.
So, do the work.
Establish a bedtime routine for the kids.
Connect with your spouse.
4) Gives you a “finish line” to work toward
Because let’s face it, we all need to check out at the end of the day.
There will be days that you’ve been peed on, rained on, and spit up on. Your toddler will finger paint with her poo. Your baby will need to be held constantly. You’ll be overwhelmed. Stressed. Touched out.
You need a finish line, mama.
Bedtime Routine Tips
First, I want to say I understand that every home is not the typical mom + dad + baby situation. You may be a single mom who has to do it all on her own. You may live with your parents. Or you may have a spouse that doesn’t help with the kids. There are millions of different scenarios, and regardless of the situation you find yourself in, I hope you can still glean some help from these tips.
Get some fresh air
Regardless of the weather, getting a few minutes of fresh air each day will help your kids (and you!) rest better at night.
So bundle up, grab a raincoat, or slather on some sunscreen and get out there!
(Added benefit: Your kids will have a chance to run off some of that crazy extra energy!)
Have a good nap routine
A good night’s sleep for little ones begins with good rest during the day.
As adults, we know that if we stay up all day we’ll sleep well at night, but that’s not the case for little ones!
Sufficient naps lead to better rest come bedtime, so be sure to prioritize naptime!
An early bedtime will allow your child to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night, which in turn, leads to a happier kid the next day (Overtired kids are so grumpy!).
Think that a 10:00 bedtime means they’ll sleep in until 9 am (even though they usually wake up at 6)? WRONG. Chances are they’ll still wake at the same time they always do, only now they’ll wake up already tired and grumpy. Womp womp.
On the other hand, having your child asleep by 7 pm doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be up by 4 am. Most children wake at the same time every day, so getting a few extra hours in at the beginning of the night leads to a more well-rested child.
Consistency is key
Try to do the same thing every night, even down to the words you say.
Consistency and predictability help kids know exactly what’s coming next, which gives them the security and comfort they need to relax and rest.
When your bedtime routine consists of the same items each night in the same order, you’ll find that the tears and fights start to diminish.
When you have a set bedtime for the kiddos, be strategic in the planning of your day.
Have an idea of when naptime needs to be in order for the kids to go down at bedtime.
Know when you’re going to cook, eat dinner, and do bath time.
Have nighttime duties set and ready to go (for example, I bathe my toddler, but her daddy brushes her teeth and reads stories with her).
Try to be home each night in time to get the kids to bed at their set bedtime.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ever be out past bedtime, but try to respect your kid’s sleep schedule as much as you can.
They’ll be happier, and you will be, too.
Tag team (if possible)
If your situation allows, have dad participate in the bedtime routine.
Not only will it give you a hand, but it will also encourage bonding between your spouse and kids.
Try designating duties (bath time, brushing teeth, story time, etc.), or trade off duties each night.
Figure out what works for you and stick with it.
Reduce or eliminate screen/tv time
Screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime delays bedtime, stimulates their brains, and reduces the amount of sleep your children get.
Instead, try using the time leading up to bedtime for play, reading books, connecting, and enjoying their bedtime routine.